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Content Marketing that Works: Tactics to Stand Out

Content Marketing that Works: Tactics to Stand Out

Content Marketing that Works: Tactics to Stand Out

Understanding Content Marketing and Lead Generation

I’m constantly looking for the cutting edge marketing tactics to grow the reach of top-tier managed IT services business. I’ve read the book “The Conversion Code” by Chris Smith and I’ve been through the Storybrand online training. There seems to be a plethora of information on lead generation, but across the board there seems to be a recurring theme – content is king. So two key videos I have tried to pare down what I have learned into one very helpful post – especially sine these two classes just reiterated what I had learned in The Conversion Code and StoryBrand. I hope you find it helpful.

Is Content Really King?

If you are a business owner then you know the importance of marketing and good content. But what is good content? I often find myself asking that question when I sit down to write a great blog post. I recently watched two training sessions on Skillshare that gave me similar feedback to my question. Good content is content that is ten times better than your competitors. Wow. 10 times better? That’s a really high bar, so how do you achieve that? Rand Fishkin and Garrett Moon have some answers to that question. Read On…

Introduction to SEO: Tactics and Strategy for Entrepreneurs

The first training session on Skillshare that I watched was taught by Rand Fishkin of If you are into Analytics, Marketing, SEO, then you should be using if you aren’t already. It is chock full of free resources that will help you cut through the clutter of analytics and SEO. There is of course a paid service option too, but for what you get for the price it is well worth it.
Rand started the class with an overview of how SEO works and why it is important to rank well in search. He asked the question, “Is search really a big deal?” Of course it is. It is a the way of ton of web discovery happens. The data he used for this class was from “Similar Web” which is a tool that tracks user data and they can tell us how much traffic flows from any given source.”
Here are some of the key points from the first section of Fishkin’s class:

  1. How Traffic Flows on the Internet
  2. Why is search traffic so valuable?
  3. How search results work
  4. Click through rates

How traffic flows on the internet

He gave us some good information on how sites are reached through the internet. I was surprised to see, according to his data,  how traffic that comes by way of email and display ads is the lowest on the list. One of Fishkin’s key points is that almost 30% of all internet traffic comes from organic search.  Organic search is only second to direct traffic and referral traffic is third. Referral traffic is important since it is traffic that is coming from other websites that are referencing your good content. Is your content good enough that other people will refer their readers to it?

If organic search could be sending customers to your site then the next logical question should be “how can I create content that makes my site rank well on search engines?”

Why is Search Traffic So Valuable?

When people are searching they are basically saying “I want this thing right now.” This is important because it is both intent and temporal, it is timely in nature. When someone is searching for something on the internet it is because they want it. Other sources of advertising are more latent, meaning that they are suggestions or they are just making you aware that a product exists but you may or may not want that product. When customers are searching, they want something immediately and you have the opportunity to provide them that product or service. Other forms of advertising create demand, but search is how that demand is filled.

How Search Results Work

It is estimated that there are approximately 6-10 billion searches done on Google a day. Half on desktop and half on mobile. Of those searches, 82% are going to organic results and 18% go to paid search. However, most organizations spend 80% of their budget on Paid Search and only 20% of their budget on organic SEO. This is awesome for those of us who want to capitalize on organic search.

Click Through Rates

There is a saying, “The best place to hide a dead body is on page three of Google.”  By moving from position six to position two or first place on Google’s first page of results can increase customer traffic by up to seven times! This is why it is very important to rank well on organic search results.

What’s an SEO Strategy and how do I create one?

When we think of SEO strategy we often think of keywords, but that is part of your tactics. Strategy answer the question: How can search traffic help us accomplish our BUSINESS goals?
Can more search traffic help us and how can we use that? If a business knows their objectives then they can align their SEO Strategy to meet their business goals. If a customer is looking for a metal building then what content can you create that will help make your business more discoverable on the web. You create that content and then you test it out with your customers and see if they get engaged and keep tweaking that content until it gets your customers excited about your product or service. How can we get our customers excited about us? How do we make our content more discoverable? These are all questions you should be asking when creating an SEO Strategy.  After you create your SEO Strategy you then have to prioritize your investments.

Prioritize Your Investments

Expected Value + Expected Costs + Alternative Investment Options + Level of Importance to Business Right Now

You will start by looking at a bunch of investment strategies that will improve your website: making is secure with HTTPS, increasing speed, adding more content, improving the overall design, etc. Then determine what items you are going to tackle in a week, month, quarter or year.

Considering your Audience’s Needs

What is your audience searching for that they can’t currently find? In order to figure this out go to Google and search for your products or service and see what is currently ranking. See what is showing up and what results might be missing. Then you need to ask yourself the question, “How can I make my results 10 times better than any of these results?” We don’t want to be “as good” as the current results, we want to be 10x better. The bar is high because it is so competitive.
What you want to do with an SEO Strategy is to make sure that your business objectives align with your SEO Strategy and focus on driving your customers to your site and not just driving general traffic to your site.
Rand Fishkin’s class was a great jumpstart on why we need to focus on content that drives organic search and the class by Garret Moon outlines strategies for creating great content.

Content Marketing that Works: Strategy & Tactics to Stand Out

Content allows you to provide value to your readers and set you apart as a subject matter expert in your field. According to my research I’ve also learned that content that people find useful is content that is shared, basically, people get excited to share utility. People also like content that is unlike everything else out there on the web. They want knew information, not just information that is about your product or service – unless that information about your product or service is useful. Moon suggests creating content that is “competition free” – which means that it stands out on its own and is free of other competing articles or blogs.
Competition Free Content – Content that Stands out and is free from competition
  1. Publish regularly with good content
  2. Blog about things that only they could talk about – the nuts and bolts of their business – telling their startups story

How do you find Competition Free Content?

  1. Observe your competitors – what techniques are they using so you can find the cracks
  2. Do simple searches on Google – look at the top ten results, look at length of content and writing style.
  3. Understanding what you can do better than anyone else, what are the patterns that the industry is falling into and how can we disrupt that
  4. What are you and your team really good at.
  5. What are your competitors doing similar
  6. What’s in it for your customers
  7. Are there people in your audience that aren’t serving in your content
  8. What is stuff that you’ve created already that you’re the most proud of.

Here are some suggestions from Moon that they use at CoSchedule:

  1. Try to create longer posts with more images
  2. Leverage the strengths of your team
  3. Groove found competition free content by looking at their product
  4. For CoSchedule, their content was often the process by which they actually created their content.
  5. Competition free content is high-level strategy with key bullet points.
  6. Take that high-strategy and create a detailed plan that can be executed on a weekly basis.
  7. Fight the urge to just create content.
By creating a content strategy and writing competition free content, CoSchedule was able to double their subscriber base in a matter of weeks and increase search as well.

Prioritize your Content Opportunities

  • Generate Many ideas
    1. Key Milestones
    2. Big Dreams and other Projects
  • Identify which will give you 10 times the growth to your customers and which ones are just 10 percent improvements.
  • Separate your 10x and 10% projects and rank them – Low effort 10x opportunities are the best ones to jump on first, but usually 10x opportunities are more difficult to complete.10% ideas aren’t bad and you may want to revisit them later on.
  • Transfer your opportunities to the calendar
  • Social Message Optimizer on CoSchedule – this was a 10x project for CoSchedule

Create Your Process

How is your team going to execute the individual pieces necessary to complete the project. You need a process and a workflow so everyone knows their role.

Creating a good workflow

  1. Understand what you’re really trying to create
  2. Break it down into simple steps needed to complete
  3. Define what “Done” means – don’t try to answer it later on the fly. Done is your standard for performance and make sure it is built directly into the process and your workflow. Is this piece of content achieving the strategy that you want to achieve. An example would be that a blog post is at least 2500 words. Is it as thorough as we can make it?
  4. Identify who will be responsible for each task – don’t leave it open ended. You can make it work leaving something open-ended but it will take more time and slow you down.

Sample Workflow in Evernote

Outline the Post
Get Outline Approved
Approval Takes 2 Days
Write the Post
    – Who: Content Writer
    – Done? 2500-3000 Words
    – Standard: The best piece of content in the given category
Edit the Post
Create Graphics
Schedule Social Media Message
Approvals can slow down work flow.  Can you get those approvals happening sooner? Create your templates to meet your approval deadlines. With the team, start asking them to break it down into individual posts.

Create Better Blog Headlines with the Headline Analyzer Tool

When creating a blog post you may find the Headline Analyzer tool helpful. The Headline Analyzer is an awesome tool to help you achieve the best possible blog post headline and help will grab the attention of your audience.

Include for Each Task in Your Workflow:

  • How long it’s going to take
  • Who’s going to do it.
  • What “done” means
  • What your standard of performance is.

Use CoSchedule to Create Your Task Templates – Use a Template and Refine it Over Time.

Create your content process!

Using the three steps in the class, create the process to take your content from idea to publish. Take the time to figure out your topic specialty so you can articulate what your competition-free content will look like, then have your first brainstorming session to distinguish between 10x and 10% ideas. When you have a solid plan for the type of content you are going to focus on, move on to defining what “done” means for each step of the way, so your team can focus on getting amazing content out the door.

Keep in mind:

1) What type of content are your competitors posting online? Think about topic, length, and media type.
2) What resources do you have to create content? Is it just you, or do you have an entire content team?
3) What tools do you want to use to keep everyone on the same page?


Build your editorial calendar with CoSchedule here
Explore CoSchedule’s blog for advice on everything related to content, including:
A Content Editing Process to Avoid Copy Editing Disasters here
How to Drill into Data to Discover Social Media Insights here
Building Memorable Social Media Branding Guidelines here
Explore more with Skillshare Lists
Master Marketing: Tackle the digital marketing landscape with 6 classes that cover everything from strategy to execution
Social Media Marketing: 6 classes that teach you how to use digital technologies to grow your business
Introduction to Branding: Define your brand, identify your audience and set yourself